Why A Book on George Millay?
By Harrison “Buzz” Price, semi-retired pioneer consultant of theme park feasibility studies.
It is entirely appropriate to write a book about George Millay and his creations for two very important reasons:
First of all, he was a seminal force in the revolution of attractions started by Walt Disney. George helped establish new concepts for systems-smart operating methods, clean environments, landscaped visitor ambience, environmental sensitivity, and an opportunity for the entire family to play together.
Secondly, he was (is) a very strong personage spiced with original wit and humor. He’s something of a latter day, Irish version of Fred Allen, but a bit more caustic.
George believed from the start that he could create a marine park themed to the life forms of the sea in the manner and quality of Disneyland. He successfully did it and by the time he went onto his next dream, his SeaWorld parks were drawing upward of 10 million people annually. George did it with great respect for the mammalian life style. He illustrated through education and contemporary habitats that mammals could benefit from and enjoy tactile contact with humans. SeaWorld programs showed that man and mammal could respect and learn from each other. It was a new form of entertainment, merging the best of show business and educational instruction.
In due time, after disagreements on construction budgets and constraints at SeaWorld Florida, George walked away from the company he created and took out his frustration by inventing an entirely new attraction form, the world’s first interactive waterpark. Wet’n Wild had giant slides, meandering waterways and great wave machines. The world had seen nothing like this. Today, nearly 70 million people visit American waterparks each year.
Two new industry segments were born when others began to copy the SeaWorld and Wet’n Wild concepts. Both segments grew rapidly.
The life experience of George Millay warrants close examination, and that’s what this book does. His story teaches us something about creative thinking in the development of new concepts and the application of innate skill in project execution. Both characterized his successful efforts to build new genres of entertainment. His two creations are now a part of the family entertainment landscape of the world.
People like George are not common. He belongs to a special cadre of those who dream, protagonists extraordinary, who have the genius to invent the new idea and make it work. George is in good company. Walt Disney with Disneyland, Angus Wynne with Six Flags, and August Busch with the Busch Gardens parks were all driven by the same creative genius as George. The group built their dreams with an uncompromising perfectionist instinct. They are reminiscent of a certain General named George S. Patton, whose style was expressed by the thought, “I’m coming through. Get out of the way or you’re road-kill.”
That is the nature of George Millay, the whimsical Irishman with the wry smile. He had an idea and he made it work. He then had another idea and he made that one work as well. Don’t bother him, he would signal, unless you can help him do it. This was his method of operation — and why this book is important. You need to read it to believe it!